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No paisleys before coffee

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Daddy gave me the prettiest comforter set for Christmas. It’s taupe and blue, and covered with paisleys, my very favorite textile pattern! They remind me of planarian worms, and those remind me of growing up with a scientist for a mama. Often when we were all out enjoying nature, Mama would holler us up, and when we got to her, she would excitedly show us a snake or beetle, or a particularly colorful bit of fungus. The day she upended a limb in a mushy part of the woods and found a planarian worm to show us, she was beside herself! I couldn’t help but be swept away by her enthusiasm as she explained to us about how the worm, a flat, pinkish gray critter with an arrow shaped head and a body that could go from paisley-shaped to spaghetti-shaped in no time at all, could grow a new head if you decapitated it!

Another attraction paisleys hold for me is how easily I get caught up in the patterns and colors that are designed into them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a boring paisley. Some are plain, others have scallops around the outside; and most are filled with the most fantastic swirls of jewel tones, and paisleys within paisleys. For a girl like me, who gets lost in her own head, having such a rich pattern to unravel is like brain yoga.

And unravel the pattern I must. Should you see me staring at the carpet in a motel, or the sleeve of a blouse in a store, or a beautiful new comforter set, I’m probably following the shape of a paisley until I find its center. Each scallop must be traced. Every layer of beautiful color is an outline for the next, and needs to be counted. Hey, I’m odd and I own it. This quirk makes my new bedding even nicer in the evenings, because I can relax and clear my mind for sleep by studying my pretty paisleys.

My gift is causing me some problems in the mornings, though. I can do one thing before I have my coffee, and that’s make the bed. I have a self-imposed rule that I cannot leave the bedroom until I make the bed. I can do it blindfolded, or at least I could before I got the new comforter set. I’d just straighten everything, smooth out the wrinkles, plump the pillows, and bada-bing, bada-boom, the bed was made ,and I could stumble down the hall to the kitchen, lured by the aroma of coffee, and then to my chair, where I could sit and sip until I was fully awake.

Now, no self-respecting comforter set comes without a bed skirt and throw pillows, right? My new bed skirt is a nice, non-threatening solid taupe. I do not even give it a second glance. The comforter is full of paisleys, but they are laid out in an orderly fashion, and since I have sorted out the different color combinations and know in which direction they are pointing, I can smooth the wrinkles with no problem, if I avoid direct eye contact with one of the curly-tailed little tempters. But the throw pillows…

There are several. One is square. One is rectangular. One is looong and skinny, with tassels. I do love to comb tassels with my fingers, but I can resist. Only one has paisleys, and it’s not the square one. If the square one had paisleys, I could just put it in the middle and go about getting my coffee. But the rectangular pillow is the one with my favorite pattern, and every morning since Christmas, I have stood gripping that pillow, half awake, in a dead panic about where to put it. On either side, it throws off the balance because of the pattern. In the middle, it looks funny because of the repetition of shapes- square, rectangle, long rectangle. It will not work!

I have tried every combination, every morning for the past week. I even tried turning the paisley pillow over so that the plain back shows, but I know they’re there, and I end up standing like a demented zombie, eyes glazed and sleep drool on my chin, whispering, “Paaaiiiissllleeeys” to Georgia the cat.

I know there’s a solution, but at 7 a.m., with a decaffeinated brain, it is beyond me. Some days the pillows have ended up in a chair. Some days they’ve ended up under the bed. I have given up, and so I will be getting one more pillow, with no paisleys, to replace the trouble maker. Now, if I can just keep from sneaking into the closet to trace the lovely patterns on the banished pillow, everything will be okay.

Pepper Ellis Hagebak spends her days framing people’s art and her nights lost in the beauty of words.